Try the freedom of self-hosting!
Hello beautiful schemers!
- Books [Evidently my dear Watson, but since you are a bookworm you already have that!]
- A Blog
- Social media accounts
Today we’ll take seven easy steps to start or re-brand a blog and in February, which will be all about love, we will talk about the best way to spread the love: social media!
Ready? Let’s go!
Step one: choose a platform.
There are at least two choices for your blog: hosted of self-hosted. If you choose a hosted platform it will be likely easier to use but much less customizable than self-hosted. For example, WordPress.com is a hosted platform while WordPress.org is a self-hosted one. Nocturnal Devices is self-hosted in WordPress.org which is the way to go if you want to be able to change most features of your blog as needed. The rest of the steps relate to creating a self-hosted blog in WordPress.org.
Step two: find web hosting services
Hosting services are usually “shared”. This means you pay a monthly fee for some server space to host your website and you share that space with other websites, which helps to keep the cost low. Blue Host has hosted my blogs for three years and I highly recommend their services. I usually go with their basic plan. If you want to choose the recommended premium, the price is about double.
After you choose the plan, then you are ready for the next step…
Step two: Choose A name and domain
Second you need to choose a name, which should convey what the focus of your blog will be as well as your personality as blogger. One way to choose a name is to make a list of all words or terms [nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc.] and combine them until you find that special arrangement that define your blog and you as a blogger.
For example, the name Nocturnal Devices is supposed to convey that this blog is about dark and edgy genres, topics and themes. So is yours truly’s personality and habits as a reader, writer, blogger and nocturnal thinker or schemer. Nocturnal Devices was the result of combining terms as night, dark, darkness, starry, thoughts, ideas, etc.
You should choose at least five options to search. You’ll be surprised how many names have been already registered!
Even tough you can always change your blog name it’s advisable to get a domain [URL] that is the same or very similar to your blog name. Nocturnal Devices is currently using the domain www.danielaark.com which was originally intended to be an author website. However, yours truly also bought the domain www.nocturnaldevice.com so when she finally published her WIP the blog will be redirected to that domain. [btw.. yours truly is not sure if she likes to refer to herself in third person, lol]
When choosing a blog name and domain use terms that are short, easy and timeless. You don’t want your visitors to struggle to remember how to type your blog name! You should avoid trendy terms because they will sound outdated in the future. Many names will not be available and you will get suggestions using different extensions such as “.org” and “.net.” Keep trying until you find a name available as .com. Even though many sites do well with other extensions, “.com” is much popular and easier to remember.
Once you have found an available domain you’ll have to create an account in Blue Host to buy this domain and you will have access to this dashboard
In this dashboard you can manage all your files and domains [if you have more then one domain] and the next thing you should do is to…
Step four: Create your blog email accounts
Using the “Email Manager” you can create email accounts for your new blog so your readers can contact you. [I use firstname.lastname@example.org] If you have other users or bloggers on your blog you can create emails accounts for each of them as well.
Here you can also create “autoresponders”, “email filters” “anti-spamers filters” and “forward” your emails to, let’s say, your personal account which is what I do.
Then using “Check Webmail” you will be able to read and manage your emails.
Now, let’s get to the fun part… create your new self-hosted blog!
Step five: Install WordPress
Just click on “install WordPress” And follow a few easy steps!
Once WordPress is installed it you will be able to access like this:
Step six: Install and customize a theme.
Once you log in to your WordPress account you can go to Appearances/Themes and choose a theme to install
There many free options that you can try before investing in a premium theme. If this is your first time using a WordPress theme, you should go with a popular theme.
When you learn more about the features themes offer, you can use the filter to find themes that shave the specific features you want on your blog.
Remember you get what you pay for, so if you are choosing a free theme make sure to choose a theme with good reviews especially about customer support.
Usually the more customization options the theme offers the happier you will be and you may want to choose themes with flashy features and animations. BUT, keep in mind that these features may distract your readers from your content and make your site load slower. Your readers may not want to wait for your theme to load and Google will rank faster websites higher.
Other important considerations are:
- Responsiveness and browser Compatibility. Many readers will visit your blog from their handheld devices. Make sure to choose a theme that adjust its layout across different screen sizes and devices and will look good in different browsers such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, etc.
- Supported plug-ins. Some plug-ins, like Anti-Spam, are a MUST for your blog so make sure the theme you choose supports the plug-ins you want to use. Most developers add this information to the documentation of their theme but you can also contact them and ask about the plug-ins they support.
- SEO optimization. A poorly developed theme will affect your site’s performance on search engines. Look for themes that say their pages are optimized for SEO.
Don’t hesitate to install and activate several themes and play with their customization options [fonts, colors, pages layouts, post formats, etc] until you find the one that is perfect for you!
Step seven: install plugins and widgets.
A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page.WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user.
A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. In the WordPress community, there is a saying that goes around: “there’s a plugin for that”. They makes it easy for users to add features to their website without knowing a single line of code. There are thousands available for free to download at the official WordPress plugin directory. At WPBeginner, we write about all the best WordPress plugins. We have even shared a list of all the plugins we use. Aside from free plugins, there are tons of amazing commercial ones available from third-party companies and developers. [source]
When it comes to plug-ins and widgets less is definitely more. There are so many widgets and plugins options available that is hard not to get carried away installing many of them. However, the more plug-ins you have the more you may run into incompatibility issues, even with plug-ins that your theme support because themes and plug-ins are constantly been developed and updated and they may become incompatible at any time. These are some of the basic widgets and plug-ins for you to consider:
- Blog subscription (Jetpack)
- Social Icons
- Google translation
- A slider showing what I’m reading now
- Social media feeds showing your latest tweet, Instagram post etc.
- Jetpack by WordPress.com: Will allow you review your blog stats and to set up many features such as security, sharing your post in social media and commenting
- MOJO Marketplace: This plugin adds shortcodes, widgets, and themes to your WordPress site.
- Anti-spam: No spam in comments. No captcha.
- The SEO Framework: An automated, advanced, accessible, unbranded and extremely fast SEO solution for any WordPress website.
Now you should be ready to click on “Publish” and present your new blog to the world!
What did you think of this post? Was it helpful? What other advice will you give to bookworms setting up their new self-hosted blogs? Do you still have questions? Let’s talk some more!
Thank you for visiting!
Bookworm, book blogger, writer, collector of stories that matter and passionate about feminism, diversity, and equality.